1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Quorum

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QUORUM (Lat. for "of whom"), in its general sense, a term denoting the number of members of any body of persons whose presence is requisite in order that business may be validly transacted by the body or its acts be legal. The term is derived from the wording of the commission appointing justices of the peace which appoints them all, jointly and severally to keep the peace in the county named. It also runs—"We have also assigned you, and every two or more of you (of whom [quorum], any one of you the aforesaid A, B, C, D, &c., we will shall be one) our justices to inquire the truth more fully," whence the justices so-named were usually called justices of the quorum. The term was afterwards applied to all justices, and subsequently by transference, to the number of members of a body necessary for the transaction of its business. No general rule can be laid down as to the number of members of which a quorum should consist; its size is usually prescribed by definite enactment or provision; it is entirely a matter for self-constituted bodies as to what their quorum shall be, and it usually depends on the size of the body. In bodies which owe their existence to an act of the legislature, the necessary quorum is usually fixed by statute. In England, in the House of Lords, three form a quorum, though on a division there must be thirty members present. In the House of Commons, forty members, including the Speaker, form a quorum. The quorum of a standing committee of the House of Lords is seven, and of the House of Commons, twenty.